Personality Cults


In the absence of an agreed working culture the leaders of an organization will use their own personalities to dedicate the way relationships are handled in their own area of influence.

The relative power and influence of each member of the leadership team will determine the relative strength of their cultural influence. Whatever the relative balance, however, you can be absolutely certain that this will create confusion, waste and stress.

The result will be a cult personality with the more dominant leaders commanding more followers, resulting in a split working culture within the organization.

The effect of this can be seen in the way organizations respond differently to sales enquiries than to service enquiries.

How many times you  have been left to wonder alone in a shop because a sales assistant is suddenly needed elsewhere when they discover that you are only enquiring and not intending to buy then and there?

It is interesting to note that when individual people suffer from a split or multiple personality they are usually diagnosed as schizophrenic  and receive the benefit of medical help. When organizations suffer from a split or multiple culture, it is usually accepted as normal.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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Employee Satisfaction


Employees expect more from their jobs now than they used to. Today’s affluent employees often demand work that provides some self-fulfillment, whether it is on the assembly line, in middle management at a multinational corporation, or in managing a fast-food franchise.

Business pays attention to these needs—and to the problems that can occur when they are not met. Poor productivity, high absenteeism, and sloppy workmanship are expensive by-products of worker dissatisfaction. So all sizes of businesses are making efforts to improve employee performance and satisfaction. Involving employees in key decisions, making jobs more interesting, and providing employee counseling are several of the ways in which they are doing it.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Direct-mail Marketing: Checklist


  • Is there a perceived need for the product or service?
  • Is it practical?
  • Is it unique?
  • Is the price right for your customers or prospects?
  • Is it a good value?
  • Is the markup sufficient to assure a profit?
  • Is the market large enough? Does the product or service have broad appeal?
  • Are there specific smaller segments of your list that have a strong desire for your product or service?
  • Is it new? Will your customers perceive it as being new?
  • Can it be photographed or illustrated interestingly?
  • Are there sufficient unusual selling features to make your copy sizzle?
  • Is it economical to ship? Is it fragile? Old shaped? Heavy? Bulky?
  • Can it be personalized?
  • Are there any legal problems to overcome?
  • Is it safe to use?
  • Is the supplier reputable?
  • Will backup merchandise be available for fast shipment on reorders?
  • Might returns be too huge?
  • Will refurbishing of returned merchandise be practical?
  • Is it, or can it be, packaged attractively?
  • Are usage instructions clear?
  • How does it compare to competitive products or services?
  • Will it have exclusivity?
  • Will it lend itself to repeat business?
  • Is it consumable, so that there will be repeat orders?
  • Is it faddish? Too short-lived?
  • Is it too seasonal for direct mail selling?
  • Can an add-on to the product make it more distinctive and salable?
  • Will the number of stock keeping units – various sizes and colors – create problems?
  • Does it lend itself to multiple pricing?
  • Is it too readily available in stores?
  • Is it like an old, hot item, so that its success is guaranteed?
  • Is it doomed because similar items have failed?
  • Does your mother, wife, brother, husband, sister, or kid like it?
  • Is direct mail the way to go with it?
  • Does it fill an unfilled niche in the marketplace?

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Shaping the Corporation


What will be the shape of the new corporation—the company that survives and thrives on the difficult path to the twenty-first century? Will it be a flattened pyramid, a networked cluster, a hollowed-out donut, or possibly even a shamrock?

These and other nonhierarchical possibilities stimulate a great deal of interesting speculation. The art of organization design is at a significant crossroads. Many of its old truisms are coming under fire, and few new proven ones have emerged to replace them. But at least some sense of direction for the new corporation is apparent: It will be a business with few walls. Its structure will minimize barriers between staff thinkers  and line doers, between functions and divisions, and between the company and the outside world.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

Calculating Market Share


Market share is the ratio of the competitor’s annual sales to the total annual sales of competitive products in the market being served by the competitors. It is usually measured by dividing the  competitor’s sales in dollars by the total sales volume in dollars for the industry. Dollars are used in the calculation because monetary value is usually easy to obtain.

As may be seen from the dimensions describing the horizontal axis of the economic experience curve. It would make more sense to measure the market share in units sold during the year. Dollar volume does not double when volume in units shipped doubles if price decreases with experience.

The dimensions of the experience curve are fully allocated unit expense in constant dollars and cumulative number of units produced. The reference to doubling sales is measured in units shipped. Because this kind of measure could be counted off on the horizontal axis of the curve, it is possible to relate the growth in shipments to fully allocated expense in constant dollards, a reasonable profit margin, and the resulting dollar volume of sales.

The difficulty in obtaining the information needed to calculate market shares in terms of units shipped is often resolved by trade association data, which reports in both units and dollars. Still the associations may not include every possible competitor among their membership. In almost all cases, however, the non-members are not big enough to be significant. Even without the non-member data, the trade association information is a good approximation to the actual figures.

Given that sufficient data is available, it is not entirely necessary to know a competitor’s exact market share. The information most meaningful to a manager is market share compared to that of the nearest competitor. This gives rise to the concept of a market share ratio.

A proposed ratio that has special meaning when used in conjunction with the economic experience curve. The ratio may be best understood as:

Market Share Ratio =   Your Market Share __________

Market Share of Your Biggest Competitor

The interesting result of defining the ratio this way is that only one competitor has a ratio greater than one. All the others have functional ratios, less than one. For instance, if you the largest market share your biggest competitor will have a smaller share than you, and your ratio will be a number greater than one. If your biggest competitor has a market share larger than yours, your ratio will be less than one.

Because only one competitor has market share ratio greater than unity, the dominant competitor is identified by a number greater than one. Also, the degree of the biggest competitor’s dominance is indicated by the size of the number.

Typically, when a new business concept arises that can be represented by an economic experience curve, several competitors enter the marketplace within a very short span of time. There is an initial market penetratiuon in which market shares are established. Managers have learned how difficult it is to change the market share of the competitors once they have been established. Market shares among suppliers who are competing forcefully tend to remain reasonably constant. Cummulative experience relative to other competitors tends to be aligned with the market share ratios.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

Circulars and Brochures


There is not much difference between a circular, a flier, and a brochure. Circulars and fliers are the same, and a brochure is longer and more detailed than either. Dictionaries don’t shed much more light on the subject.

There are several ways to distribute circulars and brochures. They may be mailed alone, mailed as part of a mailing package, placed in mailboxes, slipped under doors, slipped under windshield wipers, handed out at street corners, handed out at trade shows, handed out whenever lots of prospects congregate, handed out to prospects and/or customers, placed in the racks that say, “Take One,” placed on counters for general distribution, or dropped from airplanes. If you are going to distribute many of these, make them circulars, because circulars are less expensive per piece. If your plans for disseminating them are relatively limited, you might opt for the more expensive brochures.

The simplest form of one of these printed pieces is a single sheet of paper, printed on one side. Printing on both sides makes matters a tad more complex. Printing on both sides of two of two pieces of paper – each folded in half – makes a booklet that may be called a brochure. Some brochures run as long as twenty-four pages. When planning to produce such materials, remember that when you fold a sheet of paper in two, you have a total of four pages (two on each side). So generally you must think in terms of four-page units. Brochures are ordinarily four or eight or twelve pages. Some brochures have panels that fold rather than pages that turn. Usually, these are six-panel brochures – three panels on each side.

The format isn’t nearly as important as the content. And the content must be factual information, enlivened with a touch of style and romance. Unlike ads, which must flag a person’s attention, a brochure – or circular –already as that attention. So its primary job is to inform with the intention of selling. Most brochures and some circulars, use artwork. Sometimes this is intended to keep the pace interesting. But most of the time, the purpose is to explain, inform and sell.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

The Changing Face of Customer Service


Excellent customer service—the daily, ongoing support of a company’s offerings—is critical in creating brand identity and ultimate success. It includes answering questions, taking orders, dealing with billing issues, handling complaints, scheduling appointments, and similar activities. These essential functions can make or break an organization’s relationships with its customers. The quality of customer care can significantly impact brand identity for service, manufacturing, and consumer products companies. Because of its importance in creating impressions and sustaining customer relationships, customer service has sometimes been called the “front door” of the organization or its “face.”

 

So how has the “face” of customer service changed with the influx of technology? Long ago all customer service was provided face-to-face through direct personal interaction between employees and customers. To get service you had to visit stores or service providers in person. The telephone changed this, allowing customers to call companies and speak directly with employees. Customer service became less personal, but without a doubt more efficient, through use of the telephone. With the evolution of computer technology, customer service representatives (CSRs) became even more efficient. Through computer information systems and customer data files, CSRs are able to call up customer records at their workstations to answer questions on the spot.

 

Over time, because communication and computer technologies allowed it, large organizations began to centralize their customer service functions, consolidating into a few large call centers that could be located anywhere in the country or world. But still, in these types of call centers, customer service is for the most part an international event with customers talking directly, one-on-one with an employee.

 

The advent and rapid proliferation of the efficient, but much maligned, automated voice response systems have changed personal customer service in many organizations into menu-driven, automated exchanges. In almost every industry and any business context consumers encounter these types of systems, and many are quite frustrating—for example, when a system has a long confusing set of menu options or when no menu options seems to fit the purpose of the call. Similarly, consumers become angered when they cannot get out of the automated system easily, or when there is no option to speak to a live person.

 

Some companies have overcome these obstacles, however, and have well-designed automated telephone systems that work well for customers. This is accomplished through a form of natural-language speech recognition technology that allows customers to easily interact through the telephone in ways that are much like talking to a real person. Further, a human contact is always easy to get to if needed. Customer satisfaction is rated among the highest in any industry. One of the keys may be that the vice president of retail voice technology occupies a senior management position, showing importance placed on this function. In general, satisfaction levels for automated speech recognition systems are higher than satisfaction with touch-tone systems and in some cases are higher than for live agents.

 

Beyond automated telecom systems, explosion of the internet is also dramatically changing customer service for many companies. Service can now be provided on the internet via e-mail, website robots, FAQs, and online chat. In these cases there is no direct human interaction, and customers actually perform their own service. At Ford Motor Company’s technology that allows dealership customers to set their own service appointments, send messages regarding their specific repair needs, and monitor the status of their vehicles, all online.

 

With the relentless proliferation of technology solutions, firms are finding that expectations for customer service have changed. Customers are demanding choices in how they get customer service, whether it be over the phone, automated voice systems, via fax or email, or through internet self-service. However, while customers often enjoy technology-based service and even demand it in many cases, they dislike it when it doesn’t work reliably (a common problem), when it doesn’t seem to have any advantages over the interpersonal service alternatives, and when there are no systems in place to recover from failures. Interestingly, when things don’t work as they are supposed to on an internet site or through an automated response system, customers are quick to look for more traditional interpersonal (in person or via telephone) options, coming full circle to where we started.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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